Below is a table shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that visualizes how higher winds increase the danger of frostbite.
For me, the table reinforces the importance of monitoring wind just as much as temperature during cold months. Add a little wind to 0ºF and your risk of frostbite goes from low to happening within 30 minutes. Add a little wind to -10ºF, and you’re in the 10-minutes-til-frostbite range.
Even after this polar vortex passes, be careful out there and stay warm.
Find more information from the CDC here: Outdoor Winter Safety
Read a little more about cold weather safety in this article I wrote for Travelers Today: How to Weather the Polar Vortex Without Losing a Body Part
Up north, winter is the season of low temperatures, white landscapes, and survival strategies. For many animals that means migration, why hunker down when there’s warmth a few hundred miles south? But some animals enlist another strategy, something I’d like to on the coldest, darkest days: hibernation.
In warm months, hibernating animals function much like we do; they eat, drink, use energy, and urinate/defecate. But once they go into hibernation, they stop doing all of those things for 5-7 months. Their metabolic rates drop to 25%, or even 2% in some cases, of what they normally are (Tøien et al. 906). And even though scientists have studied hibernating animals for decades, we still don’t know how they pull off such a feat.
Scientists aren’t drawn by curiosity alone to know how bears, bats, lemurs and more can survive a several month slumber. There are potential advances for osteoporosis and muscle atrophy prevention at the root of many hibernations studies, especially studies about bears. Because, even though bears experience “long-term anorexia and limited mobility,” their muscles are still strong and functional and their bones don’t lose density, in fact they may get even stronger (Lohuis et al. 257).